MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — A lawsuit filed Wednesday claims a child was sexually abused by a priest at a Catholic church in Myrtle Beach between 1990 and 1994.
The lawsuit, filed anonymously by “John Doe,” claims Father Robert Kelly at St. Andrew’s Catholic Church groomed and sexually assaulted the child while he was an altar boy in the early 1990s.
Kelly died in 2004, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed against The Diocese of Charleston and The Bishop of the Diocese of Charleston.
The lawsuit claims the diocese was or should have been aware of improper sexual relationships involving Kelly. The lawsuit claims the diocese should have known the altar boys could’ve been subject to sexual abuse from priests.
“Knowing this information and the harm that sexual abuse of a young boy by a pedophile priest could cause, the Diocese and Bishop continued to allow pedophiles within their organization to have unfettered access to minor children,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit also alleges the diocese allowed “predatory priests” to have unsupervised access to children. The lawsuit also claims Kelly likely groomed other children.
Kelly would first make inappropriate contact with the child by leaving his hands in the child’s mouth for too long after giving communion, according to the lawsuit. It says the child would’ve had no way of knowing Kelly’s behavior was inappropriate.
The lawsuit claims that was the first step towards repeated sexual assault.
The lawsuit says “John Doe” had several events in January happen that caused him to reflect on his past, which is when he was able to recall the events of sexual assault from Kelly.
The lawsuit claims “John Doe” suffered harm and injury due to the actions of the diocese and the bishop. The lawsuit alleges negligence, reckless or intentional infliction of emotional distress, breach of fiduciary duty, civil conspiracy, and negligent retention or supervision.
“John Doe” is seeking a trial by jury and is looking for actual, consequential, and punitive damages.